Supervisor’s zipper costly to county taxpayers

November 29, 2012

Bruce Gibson

By DANIEL BLACKBURN and KAREN VELIE

Supervisor Bruce Gibson’s adulterous, long-term affair with a subordinate — his legislative assistant of six years — will cost county taxpayers $68,870 in annual salary plus benefits for a parallel county position she’s been offered by the county administrator.

Cherie Aispuro was appointed by Gibson as his legislative assistant, an at-will job that concludes when the elected official leaves office. After news of the affair with Gibson became public, the county offered Aispuro the new job.

SLO County Administrative Officer Dan Buckshi said he plans to shift her to another county position. Legislative assistants, however, are not considered civil servants, and do not have the ability to transfer to a county civil service position.

Former North County supervisor Mike Ryan, who served on the board for eight years, was outspokenly critical of Buckshi’s decision.

“Reassigning her? There is no reassigning her,” Ryan told CalCoastNews. “(The county) can’t let her go, because she works for Bruce Gibson, and they can’t reassign her into a civil servant position without violating civil service. She has to get back into line for a job. Otherwise she’s taking a job that someone else was waiting for.”

Cherie Aispuro

Ryan added, “I like Dan (Buckshi) and I think he is a very capable guy, but if (County Counsel) Rita Neal is guiding him through this, he may have the wrong guide. Both, incidentally, just got nice contracts from the board.”

Although her previous position in the clerk recorder’s office paid about $35,000 a year, the county is offering Aispuro the same $68,870 she has been earning, to be paid from supervisor discretionary funds. Buckshi made his decision based on the premise that she once worked for the county. She quit county employment to work for Gibson. Other county employees who have quit positions to become supervisors’ legislative assistants, however, have not similarly benefited. None was subsequently offered a job with the county.

Several local attorneys speculate that county counsel weighed the potential financial risk if Aispuro should lose her position and then sue for sexual harassment. Officials, apparently determined to protect the county, have offered her equal compensation, without regard for qualifications or available county jobs.

U.S. courts have been wrestling with increasingly technical sexual harassment and coercion issues for at least the last decade. Just last week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case regarding responsibilities of people in supervising positions in instances of sexual harassment.

And in 2005, the California Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in the case of Miller v. Department of Corrections which held that even if a supervisor’s sexual relationship was consensual, the employer nevertheless should be held legally liable for creating a hostile work environment. Employees can sue their employers for sexual harassment if their employment is affected by an office romance between their supervisor and a fellow employee.

The court explained: “Although an isolated instance of favoritism on the part of a supervisor toward a female employee with whom the supervisor is conducting a consensual sexual affair ordinarily would not constitute sexual harassment, when such sexual favoritism in a workplace is sufficiently widespread, it may create an actionable hostile work environment in which the demeaning message is conveyed to female employees that they are viewed by management as ‘sexual playthings,’ or that the way required for women to get ahead in the workplace is by engaging in sexual conduct with their supervisors or the management.”

Gibson, 60, has not said when he started his affair with his assistant other than to admit that it has been a long-term sexual relationship. More than three years ago, a friend of Gibson’s wife called CalCoastNews to tell of the ongoing affair (of which Gibson’s wife was aware, according to the friend). Calls to Gibson’s wife at the time were not returned.

Gibson told The Tribune recently that his wife became aware of the affair only a week ago.

County attorney Neal downplayed Gibson and Aispuro’s affair, noting that the county doesn’t have a written policy that prohibits county employees from having relationships.

When a 2009 workplace sex scandal ended with the Board of Supervisors’ termination of the county’s top two administrators, David Edge and Gail Wilcox, the Board approved a set of “Organizational Values” to be followed by all county officials and staff.

“We are dedicated to high ethical and moral standards and uncompromising honesty in our dealings with the public and each other,” according to the Organizational Values. “We assume personal responsibility for our conduct and actions and follow through on our commitments.”

Neither Gibson, Neal nor Buckshi responded to questions about the use of discretionary funds for a non-public purpose, or why Aispuro is winning a lucrative county job after having an affair with her supervisor.

San Luis Obispo-based attorney Stew Jenkins said that offering Aispuro a job in the aftermath of the affair does not seem appropriate from a fairness standpoint, and that the use of supervisor discretionary funds to assure Aispuro stays employed is improper.

“Discretionary finds have to be used for a public purpose,” Jenkins said.

And Ryan wondered: “How did Gibson and Aispuro think they could pull this off and not have the public find out?”


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Crusader

Gibson and Aispuro need to be off the county’s payroll ASAP.


MaryMalone

Quite a lovely precedent Bruce Gibson and his shack-up, Cherie Aispuro, has set for the County and its taxpayers.


All a legal assistant to one of the supervisors has to do is spread ’em for her boss and she will be given a new cushy job, which will almost certainly come with unspoken job security.


Just open a tab for Bruce and Cherie. They can pay for the future cases their precedent has set, as well as their own case of $crewing-for-dollars.


slo Fact Finder

Maybe Supervisor Gibson reimburse the San Luis Obispo County treasurer’s office back for ANY and All costs associated with this affair as a way of lessening the investigation and personnel related costs of relocating Cherie Aispuro to another “cushy” civil service job that actually pays her more when the associated government benefits & perks are included in her total compensation package……………………..


Some promotion for a job well done, huh???


MaryMalone

Maybe the regulations should be changed.


If each supervisor district was the one to pay for every time the supervisor they elected couldn’t keep his *ick in his pants, voters might be a bit more discerning when voting.


Nah, that wouldn’t work. I guess I got carried away by my frequent wish to punish the supervisor district that elected Adam Hill.


TacomaRose

Several posts on other sites suggest that the public should not be concerned as this was a private and consensual relationship. To a degree this is true but here is where the lines get blurred.


Since this woman worked under (no pun intended) Gibson’s direction the situation became ripe for problems. Any HR Director with half a brain will tell you that these situations can easily blossom into a law suit and that ladies and gentlemen, is why the rules frown upon such escapades in the workplace.


After the craziness of the Edge-Wilcox episode what the hell was Gibson thinking when he didn’t correct his own behavior. You have to question his judgement. Perhaps it simply a matter of governmental arrogance.


Honestly, our supervisory district deserves better than this.


MaryMalone

It wasn’t what Gibson was thinking that was the problem. It was what organ of his body he was thinking with. Obviously, in Gibson’s case, that organ that made the decision to get involved in an extramarital affair with a subordinate was the smallest organ he has.


MrM

Moderator,


Please remove the above post as it is way off topic, insulting and and not in compliance with CCN Comment Guidelines.


easymoney

Actually mrm, I do not think most folks care if Gibson had an affair as much as the fact he had one with someone who got promoted and given a job that could have gone to someone who actually kept her clothes on. He gave preferential treatment to to the woman while having a six year affair, she got paid and hired based on that affair, then she gets moved to another position within the county:

“SLO County Administrative Officer Dan Buckshi said he plans to shift her to another county position.”

Gibson was thinking wit the wrong head when he had the affair and when he gave the job to his lover. She should get the boot and so should he.

Public servants are supposed to be held to a higher standard while at work…


MaryMalone

I think County supervisors should not do anything that can obviously lead to a scandal because it ends up wasting the supvervisor(s)’ time and resources to deal with it.


This is especially true when it involves a scandal related to personal relations at work because, not only has this high-paid elected supervisor embroiled himself in a time- and resource-wasting scandal, he has also involved another employer or elected person in the scandal, which just wastes MORE county resources.


But one of the things I absolutely don’t want to see a County supervisor do is anything that has the potential to carry liability, ESPECIALLY when I, as a taxpayer, have to pay to fix a major disaster created by the County supervisor.


Acts that can dependably end up causing the kind of liability problems I, as a taxpayer, may have to end up paying for involve a County supervisor engaging in an extramarital affair with a subordinate, ESPECIALLY at the workplace.


I absolutely don’t want this taxpayer-funded, new, $68,870 + benefits job deal for Aispuro to occur.


Where in the heII does Gibson and his shack-up get the nerve to do something so sexually inappropriate it opens up the taxpayers to financial liability, and then reward themselves by giving the shack-up Aispuro a new $68,870 + benefits job.


THEY are the ones acting like dogs in heat. THEY can pay for Aispuro’s new job.


In fact, I think Aipsuro and Gibson should be sued for the funds wasted so far to deal with their pathetic spread-em-on-the-desk affair.


Finally, I just want to say to Bruce Gibson:


“Really, Bruce. You $crewed your legal assistant? How trite and pitiful.”


Myself

Theres the catch phrase again ” PUBLIC SERVENT ” they seem to forget that they work for us.


slothinking

I know of a situation from Northern California that is almost identical and the administrators and counsel came up with a “Love Contract” that allowed the employee to continue in the same capacity working for her boss after the admission of an affair. The only problem was they thought the contract would be unavailable to the general public. The media requested a copy of the contract and were met with fierce resistance by the jurisdiction saying it was a settlement of potential litigation. They ended up having to give a copy to the media and it reignited the embarrassment of the jurisdiction.


Maybe this will ending up being chapter 2 with Bruce and Cherie.


Kevin Rice

EVERYONE offended really needs to speak 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Supervisor meeting. Public comment is three minutes per person. Don’t be intimidated by your government; it belongs to you.


Informed

You were right on every aspect of this topic. Not about sex or his personal life. gibson dodged the bullet

on his conduct due to a sloppy county conduct code but the County cover up will topple him off his

throne. Now he can finally show some character , resign, marry her and move away .

She was a non classified county employee , not classified .


r0y

Is that like “Non essential government employees”? Now we’re calling them non classified?


Oh brother, have to love progressives and their constant re-mapping of the language.


Informed

ROy.

no remapping your words. read SLO County Human Resources code 2.40.060. Defines classified employee and unclassified.


godislanguage

Hey Dan Buckshi….how do you “shift” a Political Worker to the ranks of Civil Service and not look corrupted?


And if anyone is worried that a Political Worker like Ms. Cherie Aispure may threaten the People of San Luis Obispo County with a complaint that the County of San Luis Obispo allowed a hostile workplace, then do a Gibson on her and let her go to court.


Don’t take it personal its just politics, you play the game you accept the consequences. But don’t shoulder my tax bill with your problems.


….and what’s with that feel-good…”Board approved a set of “Organizational Values” to be followed by all county officials and staff.”


That’s rich, BOS, who are elected politicians, requiring public officials and staff to follow “Values”.


Sex and politics will always be there.


Who is John Locke anyway?


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Locke


r0y

Locke was a seed of poison. His fruit has long since been bared and we’re now witnessing the rot of it.


godislanguage

Hmmm…I haven’t heard that one.


Why so?…just asking


godislanguage

BTW,


Those are some big words to generalize a philosopher as a “Seed of poison” and are rather strong, especially without citing at least one reason.


So logically, It’s a red herring to my ascertion that he’s had a significant positive influence to our Founding Fathers with this whole idea of “Seperation of Church and State”.


He might not be Jesus Christ, but he’s no Hitler.


zaphod

Lucky Locke lived in the age of reason.


Crusader

This is becoming sickening.


The politicos and the fat-cat public employees are still operating in pre-CCN mode when they could pretty much do as they pleased while the Tribune and the other local media sources remained silent.


There will be a reckoning and it’s going to be both nasty and wonderful.